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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

The SQL Server Community

I attended, and spoke at, the inaugural meeting of the Seacoast SQL Server User’s group last night. There were about 60 people in attendance. An excellent turn-out and congratulations go out to Mike Walsh (blog | twitter) and the other organizers.

I was curious about something after watching Mike present the PASS monthly slide-deck. He asked how many people were PASS members. Approximately a third of the audience raised their hands. When it was my turn to speak, I asked how many people had heard of Buck Woody (blog | twitter). I was honestly shocked when only about 6 people raised their hands. Then I asked how many had heard of Paul Randal (blog | twitter). This time I had about 9-12 people. Finally, I asked about Brent Ozar (blog | twitter) and only had about 4-6 people raise their hands.

Today I was reading the minutes from the PASS Board meeting from March. Oh, as an aside, well done, thank you, and hearty congratulations to the board for performing this act of openness. In it, they were talking about, what else, the SQL Server Community.

It got me thinking. When I say “community” in referring to the people that use SQL Server, a lot of the times, I’m talking about the vocal and visible people, the PASS board, Brent Ozar, Buck Woody, Paul Randal, Denny Cherry (blog | twitter), I can keep going, all the bloggers I read, all the tweeters/twitterers/whatever that I follow, all the posters at SQL Server Central (especially those on The Thread) and at Ask.SQLServerCentral.com… You get the point. Even with that little list there, I’m leaving out people that I like and admire and learn from. But you know what, most of those people, know who Buck Woody is. Most of those people know who Paul Randal is. Yeah, most of them even know who Brent Ozar is (probably). But, based on my completely un-scientific survey, that’s only about 10-15% of all the SQL Server users out there, at the most 20%.

On the one hand, you can say, “Oh crud. We’re only hitting 10-15% of the users despite busting our behinds writing blog posts, tweeting, answering questions on forums, presenting at user groups, SQL Saturday events, PASS Summits, Connections. I might as well get a case of botulism.” And it could be disheartening. On the other hand, you could say, “Holy crud, we can grow this community three or four times and still not even be hitting half of all the SQL Server users out there. Oh boy, I’m going to blog more, tweet more, write more books…” because our growth potential is HUGE!

So, to the board of PASS I say, again, thanks for posting the minutes, and thank you for your hard work. You guys have fantastic opportunities in front of you. Good luck. To all the bloggers, tweeters, posters, presenters & authors, and my friends that fit many or all those categories, what are you doing right now? We’ve got a market to penetrate. Stop lolly-gagging and get to work.


Comments

Posted by edwisdahl on 14 April 2010

I think I will ask the same questions at the next SQL Saturday... Curious what the results will be.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 14 April 2010

You might try different names. I wanted to ask about Kalen & Itzik & Michael Coles & Ross Mistry, Glen Berry, Steve Jones... the list just grows & grows. Unfortunately I had to do a presentation.

Posted by BuckWoody on 14 April 2010

Great post.

I certainly don't expect everyone to know me - I mean, I'm just a local guy who tries to help as much as I can.

But I don't feel too bad - other than Steve Jobs, do you know any else at Apple? Can you name a single engineer at Google? And those folks are really bright, have amazing amounts of marketing and so on.

But the bigger point for me is that the folks out there know there are some really passionate about the product, and what it does.

I hope everyone takes the time to look up the resources they have. The folks you've mentioned, and several others out there, are on your side, and we want you to succeed in your job.

Thanks again for the mention!

Posted by Glenn Berry on 14 April 2010

I think you might have gotten slightly higher numbers if you had asked about some of the more well known (with a longer history) speakers/authors such as Kimberly Tripp, Kalen Delaney, and Paul Nielsen.

Even so, I suspect that many, many DBAs never get to go to PASS or SQLConnections, or TechEd. They also never go to user's group meetings, don't read blogs, and would never use someting as silly as Twitter!

I think quite a few DBAs just sort of sit in their cube, drinking coffee, trying to make it through the day, unaware of all the resources that are out there to help them. All we can do is to keep trying to put the word out and build the community.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 15 April 2010

Hey Buck,

You're right, I don't know a single Apple person, but then again, and this'll make you proud, I don't own any Apple products or run any of their software. If I did, I think I'd track down a few experts that I could ping occasionally, if it was my job, anyway.

My surprise is mainly around the idea that, we're knowledge workers, and we're not, or they're not, using all the resources of knowledge available to them. I just don't understand why.

Regardless, keep doing what you do. The 15% of us who see it, really appreciate it.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 15 April 2010

Hi Glenn,

I was interested in asking about Paul Nielsen or Itzik or Kalen Delaney, but I had to do my presentation.

I agree. Keep doing what we're doing, try to make a difference, help a few people... Surely word will get around.

Thanks for your stuff. Love the DMV posts.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 15 April 2010

I was surprised to see that many of the people I have mentioned (Paul, Steve, Kalen, Brent, Grant), are relatively unknown in my group.  I've started sharing interesting Blogs or topics by these people with my group.  We'll see how that goes.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 16 April 2010

Well let's face it, if you break those names down you'll see three pretty distinct groups. Paul, Kalen, and I'd argue Steve, are Names, capital intended. I'd say they are the A-Listers. Brent is a solid B. I'm just not very well known. I don't teach or travel, so unless you're one of the, approximately, 400 or so people that I presented in front of at the PASS Summit or Connections, or you hang out here on SSC, or you have a copy of my books, you wouldn't know me at all. I'm still, just a tad, surprised that Paul wasn't better known. If I do this again, and I might next week at SQL Saturday in NYC, I'm going to try a different list, mix some of the big names with some of the local NYC talent, Michael Coles for example (I'm pretty sure he's from that area).

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